Hundreds Demonstrate In Support of Navistar Workers

April 23, 2012, 2:20 PM EST


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More than 300 workers, family members and supporters took part in a noisy demonstration at the National Truck Show in Mississauga, Ontario April 21 calling on Navistar to bargain a decent closure agreement for its Chatham workforce.

The demonstration was held outside the entrance to The International Centre, where Navistar was sponsoring Truck World, Canada's National Truck Show.

At one point in the demonstration hundreds of participants crowded into the foyer of the centre blocking the entrance to the show and calling on Navistar to bargain a fair agreement for its Chatham workforce.

CAW President Ken Lewenza blasted the company for failing to treat members of CAW Local 127 and Local 35 with respect and dignity after officially announcing the closure of the Chatham truck plant in July 2011. Production ceased in 2009, forcing hundreds out of work.

Lewenza urged participants to continue speaking out against the company's actions and stressed that the closure not only impacts hundreds of workers but also raises uncertainty about the kinds of jobs future generations will be able to secure in the community.

Outstanding issues in the Navistar dispute revolve around pensions, severance pay and other matters. Demonstrators were reminded of how important Navistar was to the Chatham community - including the fact that at one point the facility had more than 2000 workers.

"These jobs were vital to the community. I am dismayed that although Navistar is still able to sell its trucks in Canada, the company is under no obligation to maintain jobs here in Canada," states a leaflet signed by hundreds outside the truck show.

"This is particularly deplorable considering Navistar received tens of millions of dollars in public monies to put towards re-tooling its facility. The workers must now move on with their lives, but in the meantime, they have the right to be treated fairly."

CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie said Navistar took tens of millions in government support, but failed to keep production and good jobs in Canada.

Other guest speakers included Ontario Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Hutchinson and CAW Local 127 President Rick Reaume.

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